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One reason why Colorado's Legislature is so polarized

Discover why Colorado's Legislature is so polarized due to low voter turnout in primaries and geographical sorting, and explore Unite America's proposal for electoral reform to open primaries and ensure more representative elections.

Unite America
May 1, 2024

A recent Axios Denver article highlights the significant polarization within Colorado's Legislature, revealing compelling statistics about voter participation and electoral dynamics. According to a report by Unite America Institute, only 13% of Colorado's voting-eligible population effectively chose the state House representatives in the 2022 elections, and a mere 18% elected the eight-member U.S. House delegation.

This polarization is exacerbated by geographical self-sorting and the structure of primary elections, which tend to have low turnout and are typically open only to party members and unaffiliated voters. This setup makes these primaries, rather than the general elections, the decisive electoral contest. Indeed, about 22% of voters have participated in primary elections since 2010.

Nick Troiano, Unite America's executive director, emphasizes that this system results in elected leaders who do not necessarily represent the broader populace. "The reason it seems like our elected leaders don't represent us is that most of us don't actually elect them," Troiano stated.

Furthermore, the report details that 84% of the state’s 65 House districts are dominated by one major party and are considered noncompetitive. In the 2018 and 2020 state Senate elections, primaries determined 31 of the 35 seats, with 25 having only a single candidate from the dominant party.

This analysis underscores Unite America's initiative to propose electoral reforms, including a measure that would open primaries to all voters and allow the top four candidates to advance to the general election, aiming to reduce polarization and create a more representative legislative process.

Read the full article here